10 Best Scanners | March 2017

10 Best Scanners
Best Mid-Range
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Best High-End
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Best Inexpensive
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We spent 34 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Well, we were promised the "paperless office" 20 years ago. How's that working out for you? Judging by the state of most people's desks, not so well. Get rid of the paper clutter in your home or business with one of these scanners that will let you digitize everything from business cards to documents and photos in a snap. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best scanner on Amazon.
10
For an all-in-one office solution with both flatbed and duplex automatic document feeding options, the HP OfficeJet Pro 8740 is a strong bet. In addition to its impressive 1,200 dpi scanning resolution, it can print up to 36 full color pages per minute.
  • wireless networking compatible
  • large color touchscreen controls
  • difficult to set up and troubleshoot
Brand HP
Model K7S42A#B1H
Weight 51 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
9
With its slim and lightweight design that measures just under 12 inches long, the USB-powered Brother DS-620 is a decent option for most home offices where space may be an issue, but the overall quality of its reproductions could be better.
  • can merge multiple pages into a pdf
  • weighs less than one pound
  • bundled software isn't user-friendly
Brand Brother
Model DS-620
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
8
The TaoTronics TT-DS011 is an A4-sized wand that can accommodate books, receipts, and almost anything else flat. Its rechargeable lithium battery allows you to take it anywhere, and it comes with optical character recognition software that makes images of text editable.
  • saves directly to an sd card
  • variable resolution up to 1050 dpi
  • poor choice for image reproduction
Brand TaoTronics
Model TT-DS011
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
7
The Epson Perfection V39 is an affordable flatbed option that boasts up to 4,800 dpi resolution for high-quality reproductions of your photos and documents to make enlargements or share online. It is a bit noisy, but you can trust it to the get the job done.
  • can send images directly to facebook
  • built-in kickstand for vertical jobs
  • some features are not mac compatible
Brand Epson
Model Perfection V39
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
6
The Brother ADS1000W is a WiFi-enabled desktop option that delivers a convenient interface for double-sided one-touch imports of business cards, receipts, photos, and more to customizable destinations. Its collapsible document feeder holds up to 20 pages at a time.
  • handles sheets up to 34 inches long
  • extremely compact when closed
  • prone to frequent jamming
Brand Brother
Model ADS1000W
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
For the traveling professional, the Doxie Go is a good portable solution with a rechargeable battery and integrated WiFi for computer-free digitizations. It features internal storage that can hold up to 7,200 photos, and also has an SD card slot if that's not enough.
  • the size of a rolled-up magazine
  • includes a worldwide power adapter
  • larger pages tend to jam
Brand Doxie
Model DX250
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
4
If you're in the market for a consumer-level flatbed that can handle photographic film and slides, the Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII is a tried and true choice. It needs no warm-up time, so you can start working immediately after turning it on.
  • automatic image retouching
  • auto-adjusts settings to media type
  • built-in gutter shadow correction
Brand Canon
Model CS9000F MKII
Weight 13.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0
3
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 has an intuitive interface that easily guides you through the import process. It allows for wireless transfers of your documents to almost any computer, tablet, or smartphone, and supports direct uploads to a range of cloud services.
  • dual-core image processing engine
  • can handle up to 25 pages per minute
  • simple one-button operation
Brand Fujitsu
Model PA03656-B305
Weight 9.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
2
Capable of scanning up to 25 pages per minute, the Canon imageFormula DR-C225 quickly tackles all of your document-importing needs. Its user-friendly design and accompanying software provide myriad options for digitizing almost anything.
  • space-saving upright design
  • automatic color correction
  • options for oversized media
Brand Canon
Model DR-M160II
Weight 10.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
The efficient Epson WorkForce ES-500W features a built-in 50-page auto document feeder. It's lightning fast, processing up to 35 pages or 70 images in one minute, and can wirelessly send files to most devices as well as to a variety of cloud storage services.
  • generates searchable documents
  • reads double-sided pages in one pass
  • universally compatible
Brand Epson
Model ES-500W
Weight 10.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Through a Scanner Darkly

From telegraphs that scan signatures to telepaths that scan minds, scanners boast a rich history in the realms of both science and science fiction.

In 1888, an American electrical engineer named Elisha Gray put scribes out of their jobs when he invented the telautograph, the world's first fax machine. Using a telegraph, Gray was able to transmit the movements of a pen from one side of town to another with such accuracy and precision that it was impossible to distinguish between an original autograph and a telautograph. With Gray's invention, one could sign a contract from the other side of the country the very same day that contract was written.

Twenty-five years later, in 1913, a Swiss photographer named Édouard Belin did the same using a telephone and a photocell in a machine he called the Belinograph. However, due to being the Great-War equivalent of AOL dial-up, the Belinograph was short-lived, stepping aside for much faster wirephoto services that could send full pages one minute at a time.

As the Second World War approached, a battle of engineers ensued with slight advancements in wirephoto technology being made year after year until, in 1948, Western Union won with its compact, desktop-friendly DeskFax.

With the advent of email and the subsequent ability to send digital images between computers, the need arose for a machine that could not only make and send copies, but could turn a full-page document or photograph into a digital file, which could then be sent and either kept or printed.

In 1969, Nobel Prize-winning physicists Willard Boyle and Charles E Smith invented the charge-coupled device, or CCD, a device that converts photons, the light particles that allow us to see physical objects, into electron charges and electron charges into digital values, ones and zeroes, that can then be used to construct a digital copy.

Enter the first digital scanner.

Decision #1: CCD or CIS?

Whether you're scanning old photographs for posterity, illustrations for a children's book, or three-dimensional objects for 3D-printer schematics, digital image scanners come in a variety of types and some may be more suitable for certain tasks while others may not be suitable at all.

Visual artists interested in scanning smaller canvas paintings that could be easily damaged by, or simply won't fit into, automatic document feeders, flatbed scanners are the only viable option. Likewise, professionals specializing in digital archiving will also want to avoid automatic feeders, which can crease, scratch, or otherwise damage old photographs and documents.

Whether you are limited to flatbed scanners or not, there are two major decisions to make. The first, which may greatly influence the second, as we shall soon see, is a choice between charge-coupled devices and compact image sensors.

Where CCD uses mirrors to reflect light, thereby allowing for greater depth of field necessary for capturing things like brushstrokes, CIS uses LEDs in near-direct contact with the object being scanned. By using LEDs, CIS requires much less power and therefore is the only option in portable, battery-operated scanners or scanners that can be plugged in via USB.

Due to the minimal power required for them to operate, CIS scanners often provide much lower image quality than CCD scanners, but they do so in favor of convenience.

Decision #2: Desktop or Portable?

When writer and director David Cronenberg first conceived of the plot for Scanners, a 1981 science-fiction film in which mind-reading "scanners" can scan for thoughts with such enthusiasm they cause their victims' heads to explode, digital scanning technology was limited to reconnaissance satellites and the world's first digital still camera, which was extremely expensive at the time. Not for another thirty years would people be able to scan things, including other people, as readily as Cronenberg's "scanners" could.

By commercializing compact, affordable scanners, companies like Brother, Canon, and Epson have allowed people in the 21st century to scan, digitize, and share via social media everything from hundred-year-old photographs to original works of art to pages of an old manuscript restricted to the library's archives, which leads us to the second major decision: desktop or portable?

Having decided whether or not the energy efficiency and lower price of CIS outweighs the image quality and depth of field of CCD, the next thing to do is to decide how you plan on using your scanner most often.

While a flatbed CIS scanner may capture every word on the page of a book and allow you to convert that page into a searchable .pdf file, a handheld CIS scanner will allow you to scan a rare, 14th-century illuminated manuscript without flipping it upside down and causing further damage to an already deteriorating spine. However, a handheld scanner may not be able to capture the entire document in a single pass, whereas a much wider flatbed scanner will.

As with most technologies, the choice of brand and type depends entirely on what kind of work you plan to do.



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Last updated on March 31, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.


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